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The key to quality.

Course Presented by Little Rock Chamber Designed to Improve Quality of Performance and Products

TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEment means different things to different people.

To some, it is an educational process.

To others, it is a way of life.

Recently, 60 central Arkansas businessmen and businesswomen were indoctrinated into the world of Total Quality Management, thanks to the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and "Greater Little Rock: A Total Quality Community."

The seven-week, 16-hour course was offered first in July and again in October.

During the sessions, business executives team up to solve actual problems experienced within their operations.

The problems are specifically identified and discussed by the participants. Eventually, a resolution to each is conceived.

The program was designed with upper management in mind, chamber officials say.

"For it to be successful, it has to have the approval and backing of the top CEO," says Kim Pruitt, director of office-service sector development for the Little Rock chamber. "It certainly won't work if the employees try to implement it and the CEO overrides it."

Pruitt admits the TQM package is a unique one for the chamber. That body usually is more concerned with bringing new businesses into the community rather than improving those already here.

TQM is "a way of keeping the existing businesses competitive," says Pruitt, an admitted newcomer to the management philosophy before the chamber program. "We hope that these people can go back to their companies and apply some of the principles that they've learned."

Journey to Japan

The principles behind Total Quality Management date back to 1950. That was the year. W. Edwards Deming made his fateful journey to Japan, where the statistician and business consultant was charged with conducting a population census for the U.S. government.

Deming was asked by Japan's leading business executives to lecture them on his specialty: quality control.

His exhortations led to a total revamping of the self-defeating business practices of the Japanese, who went as far as naming their most prestigious business honor the Deming Prize. It is awarded annually to the firm that has best put to use the methods prescribed by Deming.

Deming's approach to management is based on cooperation and communication -- between producers and distributors, management and employees.

It has been adjusted to accommodate virtually every field of business.

The chamber's program borrowed liberally from Deming's "14 Points for Management." These are steps he devised to help companies improve both their products and their management processes.

"It's not just the product going out the door, it's the processes in the organization that occur in getting that product out the door," says Dr. Cal Kellogg, the main discussion leader for the chamber program and chairman of the Department of Management at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Among the Deming initiatives used by Kellogg:

* Adopt the new philosophy. We can no longer live with commonly accepted levels of delays, mistakes, defective materials and defective workmanship.

"The new philosophy we're trying to adopt is that the ones who do the jobs know what the problems are and they probably can come up with solutions to these problems," Kellogg says. "That's a radically different philosophy than what's been used in the past."

* End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Long-term business contracts with suppliers should be based on performance rather than the lowest cost, Kellogg says.

"You have to look at factors other than just price," he says.

* Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively in the company.

"In our current system, when a mistake is made, we try to find out who made the mistake," Kellogg says. "When a mistake is made, everybody runs."

The TQM answer to this is "putting responsibility for mistakes that are made on the shoulders of management. When a mistake is made, everybody runs to that mistake and tries to find out how it is made."

Adherence to these principles and the others ascribed to Deming will bring a corporation an increase of 20-40 percent in profitability, Kellogg says.

That does not include growth in sales.

"There will be instances where companies will do more than that," he says. "The bottom line is, as you develop a better product and better serve customers, you're going to attract more customers. |TQM~ also means less turnover because you've got a higher satisfaction level among employees that are more committed to the organization."

Pruitt points out that TQM cannot be construed as a quick fix or miracle cure. Instead, it's a method that allows a company to operate more efficiently and within the realm of com-petitiveness.

"It's something you have to grow and develop into a style," Pruitt says. "It's not always increased sales. It's reducing waste and rework."

"Quality itself is abstract, but the difference |in TQM~ is there's a scientific method to this to ensure the quality," says Dick Holbert, president of Central Flying Service in Little Rock.

Holbert attended the first TQM course along with 13 of his employees.

He enrolled 10 more of his employees in the second session.

The program is scheduled to expand into four sessions in 1993.

"It's necessary in Total Quality Management to reach as deep in the organization as you can go," he says. "We're going to send more people as they develop classes.

"It was excellent training."

"For us, it was just augmenting what we had in place," says Terry Cox, regional transport manager of the Target Stores Inc. Distribution Center in Maumelle.

Target's corporate office in Minneapolis has been involved in installing TQM-like procedures for more than 18 months, Cox says.

One of her reasons for taking the course was to identify other local companies involved in Total Quality Management.

Jim Faulkner had one complaint with the program. He thought it was designed more for those in the manufacturing industry.

"I felt like it was a little more tuned into production than the service industry," says Faulkner, general manager of the Holiday Inn City Center in Little Rock.

He suggests separate sessions for those involved in production markets and those in the service trade. Nevertheless, Faulkner remains a believer in Total Quality Management.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:total quality management course offered by Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce to businessmen
Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Dec 14, 1992
Previous Article:Quarterly leader repeats.
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